Book Review: The Loch

Marine biologist Zachary Wallace was on his way to making a name for himself in the scientific community. His work was getting published, he was being invited to serve on the boards of assorted oceanographic councils, taught at Florida Atlantic University and as the inventor of a new underwater acoustics device found himself on board a research vessel on the Sargasso sea. That was before a terrible accident while testing the device on board a 3-man deep-sea sub in the extreme depths of the Sargasso.

Now Zachary is dumped by his girl friend, the university fires him, he’s poison to the scientific community and to add insult to injury he’s now terrified of the water. How can one be a marine biologist when the very thought of getting on or in the water brings about crippling panic attacks? Thus Zach begins to find solace in the bottle, hardly caring what becomes of his life until a knock on the door reopens past wounds and maybe a chance to reconcile father and son. Angus Wallace, Zachary’s father stands accused of murder and desperately wants his son to return home to Drumnadrochit in the Scottish Highlands.

In short order Zach discovers that his father has betrayed his trust yet again. Zach finds himself on the witness stand giving testimony regarding the possibility of there being a large creature living in the loch. A creature Angus swears killed the man he’s accused of murdering. Naturally the courtroom erupts; proceedings turn into a circus as the media immediately make the most of the story. Add an unexplained death or two and the next thing you know, the loch is full of Nessie hunters searching for fame and fortune. Zach desperately tries to maintain his distance from the escalating media frenzy while doing some real science.

Add more deaths, reemerging memories, black templar knights and the search for the truth can lead unexpected places. Before long Zach must face all his worst nightmares while working to unravel the mysteries of the loch.

This is a refreshing new twist on the Nessie story in that it brings some real science to the mix. The pacing is steady, the story line well thought out, even believable. There’s the rather overdone pontificating know-it-all who gets his just desserts but putting that aside, it’s a page-turner. I purposely haven’t given anything away about the creature so you’ll just have to read the book if you want to find out what it is.

This is my first exposure to the non-profit Adopt-An-Author program designed to get secondary school students interested in reading and if this book doesn’t get them reading I don’t know what will. Don’t think this is just a kid’s book though, overall it’s a thoroughly entertaining read. There’s quite a bit of history and background information provided, so much so that at times I just skimmed over those parts. My main complaint is with the book’s format. At the start of each chapter is a page of eyewitness accounts, there is also an ancient story being told in sections throughout the book. I found reading the eyewitness parts broke up the story too much and quit reading them about a third of the way into the book. Do make sure to read the ancient tale though, it has bearing on the story and is in a different font so you’ll recognize it easily. Alten did a nice job of meshing the two story lines into a satisfying ending.

The Loch will be published on April 1 in the USA and is available for pre-order via Amazon. UK readers can pick it up from April 30, again it can be pre-ordered at Amazon UK.

Elsewhere on the Web